Family's adventure of a lifetime

Jan 23, 2015
A sunlit morning at the Banff Gondola painted the perfect backdrop for welcoming the shy 17-year old Jacob and his parents Wayne and Sandra Gardner of Halifax to Banff, Alberta on January 20, 2015.

Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada arranged the adventure of a lifetime for the Gardners to fulfill the dream of Jacob, a spirited teen with a great love of medieval history, who lives with Noonan’s Syndrome (NS).

Jacob’s condition causes an array of health concerns including Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (a small hole in the mitral valve of the heart), strabismus (crossed eyes) and difficulties with fine and gross motor skills. While other teenage boys are proud of their physical aptitudes and off playing sports, Jacob is constantly wary of strenuous activity that may easily admit him to the hospital.

Having never been out west to the Canadian Rockies before, the family’s awe of their new alpine surroundings was altogether heartwarming and humbling. After enjoying lunch at the Summit Café, the Gardners explored the interpretive SummitWalk and took in the mountain views. Jacob’s excitement resonated as he recalled his father’s usual comment of the rocks found back home in Halifax, “Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all". Jacob responded with, “I bet you won’t be saying the same about the Rockies!”

“It’s been unbelievable,” said Jacob as he reflected on the day’s events over dinner that evening at Toque Canadian Pub.

“I’m so proud of Jacob and how far he’s come,” said mother, Sandra Gardner who lives with stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, “Everyone has been so kind. We really are just blown away.”

Jacob’s wish to visit the Rockies was complete with a stay at the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel along with a quintessential winter dog sledding adventure and sleigh ride through the picturesque landscapes of Banff National Park.
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